Poetry of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
Christus: A Mystery



PETER and ANDREW mending their nets.

Never was such a marvellous draught of fishes
Heard of in Galilee!  The market-places
Both of Bethsaida and Capernaum
Are full of them!  Yet we had toiled all night
And taken nothing, when the Master said:
Launch out into the deep, and cast your nets;
And doing this, we caught such multitudes,
Our nets like spiders' webs were snapped asunder,
And with the draught we filled two ships so full
That they began to sink.  Then I knelt down
Amazed, and said: O Lord, depart from me,
I am a sinful man.  And he made answer:
Simon, fear not; henceforth thou shalt catch men!
What was the meaning of those words?

                          I know not.
But here is Philip, come from Nazareth.
He hath been with the Master.  Tell us, Philip,
What tidings dost thou bring?

                     Most wonderful!
As we drew near to Nain, out of the gate
Upon a bier was carried the dead body
Of a young man, his mother's only son,
And she a widow, who with lamentation
Bewailed her loss, and the much people with her;
And when the Master saw her he was filled
With pity; and he said to her: Weep not
And came and touched the bier, and they that bare it
Stood still; and then he said: Young man, arise!
And he that had been dead sat up, and soon
Began to speak; and he delivered him
Unto his mother.  And there came a fear
On all the people, and they glorified
The Lord, and said, rejoicing: A great Prophet
Is risen up among us! and the Lord
Hath visited his people!

                       A great Prophet?
Ay, greater than a Prophet: greater even
Than John the Baptist!

                   Yet the Nazarenes
Rejected him.

              The Nazarenes are dogs!
As natural brute beasts, they growl at things
They do not understand; and they shall perish,
Utterly perish in their own corruption.
The Nazarenes are dogs!

                They drave him forth
Out of their Synagogue, out of their city,
And would have cast him down a precipice,
But, passing through the midst of them, he vanished
Out of their hands.

          Wells are they without water,
Clouds carried with a tempest, unto whom
The mist of darkness is reserved forever.

Behold, he cometh.  There is one man with him
I am amazed to see!

                  What man is that?

Judas Iscariot; he that cometh last,
Girt with a leathern apron.  No one knoweth
His history; but the rumor of him is
He had an unclean spirit in his youth.
It hath not left him yet.

CHRISTUS, passing.
                        Come unto me,
All ye that labor and are heavy laden,
And I will give you rest!  Come unto me,
And take my yoke upon you and learn of me,
For I am meek, and I am lowly in heart,
And ye shall all find rest unto your souls!

Oh, there is something in that voice that reaches
The innermost recesses of my spirit!
I feel that it might say unto the blind:
Receive your sight! and straightway they would see!
I feel that it might say unto the dead,
Arise! and they would hear it and obey!
Behold, he beckons to us!

                          Follow me!

Master, I will leave all and follow thee.